The importance of the veneration of the Mother of God
“Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women (Luke 1:28).” This salutation addressed to the Virgin Mary by the Archangel Gabriel, forms a part of the hymn of the Church most frequently sung in her honor. Elizabeth, the Virgin’s cousin, considering it an honor for the Mother of her Lord to visit her, uttered the words, “And whence is this to me that the Mother of my Lord should come to me (Luke 1:43)?” It was during this visit by the Virgin Mary to her cousin, that the Holy Virgin spoke the words that serve as the principal hymn sung in her honor during the Matins service: “My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. For He hath regarded the low estate of His handmaiden, for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed (Luke 1: 47-48).”
“Filled with the Holy Spirit”, Elizabeth cried out: “Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb (Luke 1:41, 42).” It is this same honor given the Mother of God by her cousin that has been the blueprint for all generations of the Church to call her blessed. Furthermore, when Our Lord spoke the words, “Behold thy Mother (John 19:27), to John, as He was hanging on the cross, she became the Mother of all Christians! It is clear that had she given birth to other children, there would have been no need for Christ to have asked John to take care of His mother, thus His words were spoken for the benefit of all His followers.
The Virgin Mary in the Orthodox view is not regarded as a mediatrix or co-redemptress, as she is seen in some Roman Catholic circles. We see her as an intercessor for us, and our prayers to her are in the form of requests for her intercession. The Orthodox concept of the Church is the basic reason for the invocation of the Theotokos and all the saints.
The Orthodox Church teaches that the Church Militant on earth and the Church Triumphant in heaven are not separated from one another, but are in fact united together in One Lord Jesus Christ. Just as we here on earth are charged with the task of praying for one another, so too do those who have gone on before us, continue to pray for us. We are united in prayer, and united in a mutual bond of love. Just as it is right that we who are members of the Body of Christ, pray for one another, we know that this Body, which is the Church, is united together, even in death. Thus, how much more profitable it is that we invoke the prayers of the saints, who’ve won the battle, and are in heaven with Christ.
The Scriptures make it clear that those who are in heaven remain aware of what happens here on earth, for how else would they know to rejoice over the conversion of one sinner? “Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents (Luke 15:10).” In Luke 20:36, we read, “nor can they die anymore, for they are equal to the angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection.”
We honor and venerate the Virgin Mary as “more honourable than the Cherubim and more glorious without compare than the Seraphim …” and invoke her name in every service, seeking her intercession before the throne of God. We have given her the title “Theotokos” (Greek for “Birth-giver-of-God), and as the “Mother of God”, having given birth to Christ Jesus, Who is both True God and True Man, how could we simply lay her importance aside, and forget her?
How can we deny the Theotokos an important role in the life of the Church? Our historic theology has always insisted upon the two perfect natures of our Lord Jesus Christ; true God and true Man. The Virgin Mary gave birth to the humanity of the Incarnate God, and the redemption of the human race was made possible through the union of God and man in Christ. The de-emphasis of the sinlessness of Christ’s Mother, by Roman Catholics, and the insistence she had other children by Joseph, as demonstrated in the theology of many of today’s Protestants, are the result of a departure from the Ancient Church’s divinely guided recognition of the place of the Holy Virgin in the life of the Christian. The departure from the Ancient Church’s teachings regarding the Holy Virgin have even caused some to deny the virgin birth of Christ, leading many liberal protestants to ultimately question such basic Christian teachings as the divinity of Christ, the doctrine of the Trinity, and Christ’s resurrection.
Through the Prayers of the Holy Virgin, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us.
Love in Christ,
Tuesday April 6, 2021 / March 24, 2021
Fourth Week of the Great Lent: Adoration of Cross. Tone two.
Great Lent. Food with Oil
Forefeast of the Annunciation.
Venerable Zacharias the Recluse of Egypt (4th c.).
St. Artemon, bishop of Seleucia (1st c.).
New Hieromartyr Alexander priest (1918).
New Hieromartyr Vladimir priest (1920).
Venerable Zachariah, faster of the Kiev Caves (13th c.).
Martyrs Stephen and Peter of Kazan (1552).
Venerable James the Confessor, bishop of Catania (802-811).
“The Clouded Mount” Icon of the Mother of God.
Hieromartyr Parthenius, patriarch of Constantinople (1657).
St. Savvas the New of Kalymnos (1948) (Greek).
Eight Martyrs of Caesarea in Palestine (Greek).
Venerable Martin of Thebes, monk (Greek).
St. Thomas, abbot of the monastery of St. Euthymius (542).
St. Severus of Catania (802-811).
St. Artemius, bishop of Thessalonica.
St. Dunchad, abbot of Iona.
The Scripture Readings
Praise to God
25 O Lord, You are my God.
I will exalt You,
I will praise Your name,
For You have done wonderful things;
Your counsels of old are faithfulness and truth.
2 For You have made a city a ruin,
A fortified city a ruin,
A palace of foreigners to be a city no more;
It will never be rebuilt.
3 Therefore the strong people will glorify You;
The city of the terrible nations will fear You.
4 For You have been a strength to the poor,
A strength to the needy in his distress,
A refuge from the storm,
A shade from the heat;
For the blast of the terrible ones is as a storm against the wall.
5 You will reduce the noise of aliens,
As heat in a dry place;
As heat in the shadow of a cloud,
The song of the terrible ones will be diminished.
6 And in this mountain
The Lord of hosts will make for all people
A feast of choice pieces,
A feast of wines on the lees,
Of fat things full of marrow,
Of well-refined wines on the lees.
7 And He will destroy on this mountain
The surface of the covering cast over all people,
And the veil that is spread over all nations.
8 He will swallow up death forever,
And the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces;
The rebuke of His people
He will take away from all the earth;
For the Lord has spoken.
9 And it will be said in that day:
“Behold, this is our God;
We have waited for Him, and He will save us.
This is the Lord;
We have waited for Him;
We will be glad and rejoice in His salvation.”
8 Then God spoke to Noah and to his sons with him, saying: 9 “And as for Me, behold, I establish My covenant with you and with your [a]descendants after you, 10 and with every living creature that is with you: the birds, the cattle, and every beast of the earth with you, of all that go out of the ark, every beast of the earth. 11 Thus I establish My covenant with you: Never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood; never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.”
12 And God said: “This is the sign of the covenant which I make between Me and you, and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: 13 I set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth. 14 It shall be, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the rainbow shall be seen in the cloud; 15 and I will remember My covenant which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. 16 The rainbow shall be in the cloud, and I will look on it to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” 17 And God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant which I have established between Me and all flesh that is on the earth.”
8 A man will be commended according to his wisdom,
But he who is of a perverse heart will be despised.
9 Better is the one who is slighted but has a servant,
Than he who honors himself but lacks bread.
10 A righteous man regards the life of his animal,
But the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.
11 He who tills his land will be satisfied with bread,
But he who follows frivolity is devoid of understanding.
12 The wicked covet the catch of evil men,
But the root of the righteous yields fruit.
13 The wicked is ensnared by the transgression of his lips,
But the righteous will come through trouble.
14 A man will be satisfied with good by the fruit of his mouth,
And the recompense of a man’s hands will be rendered to him.
15 The way of a fool is right in his own eyes,
But he who heeds counsel is wise.
16 A fool’s wrath is known at once,
But a prudent man covers shame.
17 He who speaks truth declares righteousness,
But a false witness, deceit.
18 There is one who speaks like the piercings of a sword,
But the tongue of the wise promotes health.
19 The truthful lip shall be established forever,
But a lying tongue is but for a moment.
20 Deceit is in the heart of those who devise evil,
But counselors of peace have joy.
21 No grave trouble will overtake the righteous,
But the wicked shall be filled with evil.
22 Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord,
But those who deal truthfully are His delight.
Jacob’s Vow at Bethel
10 Now Jacob went out from Beersheba and went toward Haran. 11 So he came to a certain place and stayed there all night, because the sun had set. And he took one of the stones of that place and put it at his head, and he lay down in that place to sleep. 12 Then he dreamed, and behold, a ladder was set up on the earth, and its top reached to heaven; and there the angels of God were ascending and descending on it.
13 And behold, the Lord stood above it and said: “I am the Lord God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and your descendants. 14 Also your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth; you shall spread abroad to the west and the east, to the north and the south; and in you and in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed. 15 Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you.”
16 Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.” 17 And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven!”
27 When these days are over it shall be, on the eighth day and thereafter, that the priests shall offer your burnt offerings and your peace offerings on the altar; and I will accept you,’ says the Lord God.”
The East Gate and the Prince
44 Then He brought me back to the outer gate of the sanctuary which faces toward the east, but it was shut. 2 And the Lord said to me, “This gate shall be shut; it shall not be opened, and no man shall enter by it, because the Lord God of Israel has entered by it; therefore it shall be shut. 3 As for the prince, because he is the prince, he may sit in it to eat bread before the Lord; he shall enter by way of the vestibule of the gateway, and go out the same way.”
Those Admitted to the Temple
4 Also He brought me by way of the north gate to the front of the [a]temple; so I looked, and behold, the glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord; and I fell on my face.
The Way of Wisdom
9 Wisdom has built her house,
She has hewn out her seven pillars;
2 She has slaughtered her meat,
She has mixed her wine,
She has also furnished her table.
3 She has sent out her maidens,
She cries out from the highest places of the city,
4 “Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!”
As for him who lacks understanding, she says to him,
5 “Come, eat of my bread
And drink of the wine I have mixed.
6 Forsake foolishness and live,
And go in the way of understanding.
7 “He who corrects a scoffer gets shame for himself,
And he who rebukes a wicked man only harms himself.
8 Do not correct a scoffer, lest he hate you;
Rebuke a wise man, and he will love you.
9 Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser;
Teach a just man, and he will increase in learning.
10 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
11 For by me your days will be multiplied,
And years of life will be added to you.